President Xi Jinping reiterated that China supports Moscow’s efforts in safeguarding its national sovereignty, security and development interests, while seeking a breakthrough in a Sino-Russian gas pipeline that runs through Mongolia.
(Bloomberg) — President Xi Jinping reiterated that China supports Moscow’s efforts in safeguarding its national sovereignty, security and development interests, while seeking a breakthrough in a Sino-Russian gas pipeline that runs through Mongolia.
Deepening ties between China and Russia is not an expedient but a long-term solution, Xi told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Beijing, according to a readout from the Chinese government.
China is keen to work with Moscow to ensure grain and energy security, and wants to see “substantial progress” in a natural gas pipeline between both countries and Mongolia as soon as possible, Xi added.
The gas pipeline, known as Power of Siberia 2, is intended to deliver supply from Gazprom’s Yamal fields and western Siberia to China via Mongolia. For months, the Russian government has said talks with China are “in the final stages,” but concrete progress hasn’t been evident.
The project, which would take years to build once approved, would help boost Russia’s total gas shipments to China as Moscow looks to its giant Asian neighbor to replace Europe as its major gas customer.
“Russia has limited options as its economic dependency on China deepen — even though Moscow understands its predicament,” said Philipp Ivanov, a senior fellow at the Asia Society in New York. But “Chinese investments in Russia remain disproportionately small. Chinese companies are wary of political risks, secondary sanctions, corruption and overall unpredictability of the Russian market.”
China and Russia should develop pragmatic cooperation of high quality and actively explore partnership in “strategic emerging industries,” Xi also said.
Putin’s attendance at Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative forum, which took place Tuesday and Wednesday, comes on his first trip abroad — aside from visiting former Soviet states — since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him in March for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
Xi portrayed his signature initiative as a sweeping alternative to the US-led world order in a speech earlier Wednesday, a vision for global economic cooperation endorsed by Putin. The Russian leader said Belt and Road is in sync with his own country’s goal of a world with interconnected infrastructure in which freedom of trade, investment and labor can be fully ensured.
The two heads of state also had an “in-depth exchange of views” on the “conflict between Palestine and Israel”, according to the statement, which didn’t provide more details. China also said it supports Russia’s hosting of the BRICS summit in 2024.
“For China it’s a winning proposition as it gets access to Russian commodities and agricultural exports/food at discounted prices, and its brands like Huawei are expanding presence in a large market without any significant competition,” Ivanov said.
–With assistance from Dan Murtaugh.
(Updates with analyst’s comments and other context, starting in sixth paragraph.)
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